Bitcoin (BTC 1.30%) is now up more than 60% in 2023 after a brutal 2022, when its price sank more than 64%. Some are calling the recent jump a bull trap in a prolonged bear market, but there is reason to believe Bitcoin's best days are ahead. 

Although its price is still more than 61% off its all-time high of nearly $69,000 back in 2021, a handful of metrics show Bitcoin is still in relatively good shape, especially when considering the madness crypto has gone through in the past year. 

1. My favorite metric

Potentially the most important statistic that flies under the radar is known as mining difficulty, and it currently sits at an all-time high. 

This is one of the most valuable indicators of the token's health because the greater the mining difficulty, the more decentralized and secure the Bitcoin network becomes. Thanks to an increase in the number of nodes running the Bitcoin code around the world and more powerful mining computers coming online, mining difficulty has ascended continuously since the crypto's creation 14 years ago, regardless of price swings and multiple bear markets.

As this trend continues, it goes to show that the Bitcoin network is still growing in security and decentralization even in the midst of the crypto winter. Personally, I find this to be one of the most alluring reasons to invest in Bitcoin today because investors have the opportunity to buy it while it remains well off its highs.

2. Increased block sizes

Besides mining difficulty hitting a new high, another metric recently notched a record: block size. Evaluating block size is important because it allows us to see how many transactions are occurring on the network and thus gauge activity. 

This uptick in activity is likely due to the advent of ordinals, or Bitcoin-based non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are digital representations of ownership of art, media and collectibles. Since their introduction in January, more than 150,000 ordinals have been created. As a result, the crypto's mean block size has increased by 20.5% and hit an all-time high just shy of 2.5 megabytes.

An increase in block size indicates that there is a greater demand for block space; as a result, this increases fees paid to miners. The more fees that are generated leads to a greater level of compensation for miners, and thus greater incentive to secure the network. 

3. Record address growth

Lastly, the number of Bitcoin addresses with a non-zero balance also hit an all-time high. Similar to mining difficulty, growth in non-zero addresses has been relatively consistent year after year regardless of market sentiment. As of this writing, there are more than 44.6 million addresses with some amount of the token. Just five years ago this number was at 23 million.

The thinking goes that non-zero addresses can serve as a proxy to gauge network growth and usage. With this number continuing to rise, and at a rate not seen since Bitcoin hit its all-time high in November 2021, there is fair reason to believe that perhaps this crypto winter might just be beginning to thaw.